Flexing your Network when You’re Home for the Holidays

As the in-person portion of the semester wraps up and you’re preparing to return to your hometown, it can feel bittersweet to leave campus. You’ll miss your friends, campus, and everything that makes Bloomington home. But, remember! You have tons of powerful connections in your hometown as well.

Make the most of your time at home (or do these virtually if you’re hanging out in Bloomington) by intentionally building and using your network. We have some suggestions for creating meaningful connections. Pick a few to do while you’re home this winter!

  • Email your old high school teachers. They’ll be more than happy to hear from you. Tell them what you’re doing at school, what your favorite classes are, and how you are learning.  Make sure you ask them what they are up to or perhaps ask them what their college life was like.
  • Ask your family members (parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, family friends, etc.) how they got into their careers. Usually, this would happen at the holiday dinner table but you can adapt to whatever plans you have this year.
  • Do you attend religious services? Reconnect with your religious leader or mentor. They will want to know how you are doing in school as well.
  • Did you have a part-time job in high school? Were you involved with community service?  Revisit those places as well making sure to talk to old supervisors and colleagues.
  • And what about your high school friends? Ask them how school is going and what they are interested in doing once they earn their degrees.  You may get some good ideas about internships and jobs from your friends. And you probably already know that you want to stay in touch with them.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If you plan to stop by any of those places in-person, be sure to call in advance.
  • Wrap up your conversation with a request to connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media.
  • If you really want to make sure they remember you, send them a handwritten note thanking them for taking the time to chat with you.
  • Even if your family doesn’t work in a profession or professional setting related to what you want to do, knowledge of what they do and who they do it with will help you understand the world of work.
  • You never know when a connection is important. Don’t dismiss someone you know because they do not appear to have any connection with what you want to do. You never know who can introduce you to someone else that you do need to meet for a job. Consider everyone you know as a potential introduction to someone else.
  • Always remember that even though it feels like you are doing all the asking, one day you will be in a position to return favors for young people who are learning to network.
By Amy Cornell
Amy Cornell Senior Associate Director, Alumni Engagement Amy Cornell